What if you knew… This was it, this is going to be my last breath?

“Si gritas tu mueres, dame tu dinero, no me hagas dispararte.” These words whispered into my ear through gritted teeth changed something in me.

It was Christmas Eve; the weather outside was unpleasantly rainy, humid and hot. Ugh, not at all the way the weather should have felt the day before Christmas. I woke up dreading the day because, my children would be spending the night with their father and I would be waking up the first time without them on Christmas Day. To keep myself occupied I spent most of the day cleaning up around the house and getting ready to attend a family Christmas party later that afternoon. I decided to wear a nice pair of fitted blue jeans, a black silk top and black boots that had about a 4 inch heel. Before I knew it, the time came to leave for the Christmas party and I was ready to go.

When I arrived to the Christmas party I was excited to see a lot of family I had not seen in a while. I was in awe of young children and babies I had not yet met, which had been added to the family. Watching everyone visiting and exchanging conversations as they also, got caught up on each other’s lives. Most people enjoying food and wine that family brought to share. Everyone was enjoying the excitement and innocence of children who were eagerly opening Christmas gifts. There was an overwhelming amount of love and happiness that filled the house. I was so happy I had decided to attend the party instead of staying home but, seeing everyone with their children only made me miss mine more. It was bitter-sweet for me. A few hours later, I had decided I would go meet up with a few friends and go see my sister who lived about 15 minutes away but, did not attend the party. After saying good-bye to family and friends I left the Christmas party.

I live a little over an hour away from the coast and do not get to see the beach as much as, I would like. Taking the scenic route to my sister’s home I was enjoying the salt in the air with my windows down and the sound of the waves washing up on the sand; that I could not see due to the massive amount of fog that had taken over the view. I stopped at a gas station directly on the beach scenic route to fill up my Honda Pilot, unaware of the looming, unpleasant and traumatic experience that would soon take place.

Getting out my vehicle to complete the mundane activities to get gas, my truck was soon filled.  Obliviously, I placed the pump back up, screwed on my gas tank lid and was turning to go inside to pay for my gas. As I took the second step away from the pump, I felt a sharp pulling pain from behind my head from my hair being yanked backwards. Having boots with heels on, I easily lost my balance and stepped backwards as the pull commanded my body to do. My head was tilted up looking into dark brown intense eyes of a man who must have been around 6’3”. Feeling an object shoved into my side directly under my ribs, I knew it was a gun.

I can’t express the amount of panic and adrenaline, that I felt wash over my body as he leaned down and whispered, “Si gritas tu mueres, dame tu dinero, no me hagas dispararte” into my ear. I felt the warmth of his breath against my neck as the hair on body stood to attention and the smell of cigarettes that lingered on his breath that filled my nostrils. I could not process the words spoken because, I did not speak Spanish. I terrifyingly told him I did not speak Spanish; I watched the annoyance cover his face as he brought the gun from my side and hit me with it in the back of my head. Horrified from being hit with a gun and the agony of pain it caused, I let out a muttered cry. The gun now placed forcefully into the side of my neck I heard him say, “Scream and die, give me your money, do not make me shoot you.” His hands were wrapped tightly in my hair as he stood over me, looking down into my eyes. I knew without a doubt he was going to kill me. I told him I had some cash in the front pockets of my jeans. Before I could say another word, he began to pull me by my hair across the parking lot to the air compressor. My eyes locked with the young cashier inside of the gas station with just as much fear in her eyes that I’m sure were in my own. He instructed me to put my hands on the bricks, count backwards from 10 and do not move. Doing as I was told, I felt his hand go into my front pocket of my jeans and remove the $45 I had. Counting out loud I began with 10, to 9, crying as I got to 8 until barely speaking when I got to 1.

Slowly turning my head I realized he was gone. Rushing inside of the gas station the girl inside ran around the counter and told me she had just called the police. Within minutes that felt like a life time, police were soon questioning me on my experience. About 40 minutes later, they had collected all the information needed from me and the store clerk.  In tears that had not let up yet, I asked to go home.

On my way home I pulled out my cell phone to call my ex-husband and told him what had happened through anxiety and tears. Grateful to be alive and disturbed by the horrific experience I just had, I desperately wanted my children. My ex-husband told me they were in bed, after all it was Christmas Eve and they were already asleep. Not long after getting off the phone with him I received a call from my Aunt calling to check on me. Ironically, we had discussed earlier tonight me coming back to her house over the weekend to shoot some handguns. I was considering buying a gun after the New Year to carry. That following Sunday I returned to my Aunts home and practiced my shooting skills. Thankfully, my skills had not disappeared completely. Now armed, I feel more comfortable knowing I can defend myself in the future if needed.

Ignorance is bliss… Or is it?

Every day we live our lives on a nonstop hamster-wheel, completing daily mundane tasks, oblivious to the thought of; What if today was my last? It sounds absurd but, it is the truth. Some of us have put thought into death but, it is not something most people really stop to consider. I for one had never thought of death happening to me anytime soon. This experience has definitely affected me and made me more appreciative of the word “Time”. I’m more now, than ever before, am determined to live my life by things I value, give me happiness, and by being the best mother I can be to my children.

“Life is without meaning. You bring the meaning to it. The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be. Being alive is the meaning.”

~ Joseph Campbell

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